Vendor Spotlight: Rowell Photography

You may have noticed that I love spotlighting photographers. It's not that all other vendors don't 'Rock it out' on your wedding day, but I feel that the one of the most common mistake couples make on their wedding day (aside from not hiring a wedding planner), is not investing more financially or otherwise to hiring a great photographer. This is why I, as your wedding planning 'guru', feel it is my duty to find the Crème de la Crème locally and worldwide, to help you with your wedding planning needs.

Aside from getting to know your personal style, your perfect wedding photographer must have the capability of grasping the essence of your personalities as individuals and as a couple. They are there to tell your wedding story. From your engagement and wedding to even your honeymoon. Yes, you heard me right: Honeymoon Photography too (we'll cover t
hat on a future post)! Rowell Photography is one such company! Erika Hancher (one half of Rowell photography), was gracious enough to give us the following interview.

Q. How did you come up with the name Rowell Photography?

A. Rowell
pronounced "roll" is Ryan's last name and since we do plan to get married one day we thought it was fitting and easier to say than my last name Hanchar.

Q. How did the company get started?

A. To make a long story short, Ryan and I used to work at a local portrait studio together and couples would often ask us to photograph their weddings on weekends. Eventually we left the studio and took a huge leap of faith and started a photography business. Here is a link to the story of how we met

Q. What tips can you give a couple to help them make the best choice in photographers?

A. 1. Make sure the photographer you initially meet is the one who shows up on your wedding day. Its sad but there are so many couples who invest their money into a company they think they love only to find out that the company has contracted in a random photographer to take their place for the day.

2. Be prepared to have a long relationship with your photographer. Most couples will hire a photographer a year before their wedding and then by time they receive back all their prints, canvases, albums and discs of images it could be up to 6 months after the wedding. Plus really great photographers are hard to find, so if you find one hold on to them for life, I am positive your wedding will not be the last time you will need a photographer.

3. When searching for photographers don't just Google "Toronto Photographers" and open 100 tabs of wedding photography websites. Not only will it be overwhelming and frustrating but its time consuming as well. Anyone who has a website can achieve good rankings with search engines. So photographers who claim to be the best in the business may not actually be. Our couples have often told us that weeding through hundreds of photography websites and price lists that didn't make any sense was discouraging and in the end they consulted people they trusted, friends and family and their wedding planners. Every company claims to be the best so if you find yourself getting confused with differences between a coffee table album and a flush-mount storybook album, high resolution images and digital negatives then consider hiring a wedding planner. They will have a list of photographers who they have worked with and trust.

4. Budget accordingly for good photography. The average couple allots 10% of their budget (and I mean their entire budget including this like venue, floral, shoes, dress, limo rental, insurance, dance lessons, cake etc.) for their wedding photography. If you love photography and if documenting memories and art is an important part of your life then having a larger budget for photography is definitely in order. This day will only happen once, and you will only have your photos to remember it by. Invest in Photographers you feel are knowledgeable, believe what you believe to be true about photography and documenting memories and life and invest in that company.

5. Are there any misconceptions that couples have that you'd like to clear up?

a. We are not all just photojournalists, or portrait photographers, we are a mix of styles. Having a either style is lovely but its not for everyone, some couples like fun, colorful images, while other couples want a more refined, dramatic and classical look. Both styles are full of life and exactly what we do. But we believe that the best weddings have a balance of both when it comes to photography. Ultimately our couples decide on the style of their photographs.

b. Photography pricing is all over the place. This is far from the truth. Yes there are photographers who charge $1500 and photographers you charge $15,000 and many many more in between. But wedding photography is not just one type of photography, it bridges on so many styles and across so many products and through the eyes of so many artists. They can't all be similarly priced.

My perception on pricing is this: You can buy a Timex watch for $15.00 or a Rolex for $15,000. Both tell time. but which one would you rather be wearing? There is no right or wrong answer it is just about personal taste. In wedding photography there is high, medium and low end, just like any other important product or service you would ever purchase.

Q. What are important questions that a couple should ask a photographer before booking?
-Will you be the photography team at my wedding?
(Be sure to ask if the company contracts photographers to take their place on the day of the wedding. If they cannot guarantee that the photographer you are meeting with will be the one that photographers your wedding then it is probably a good idea to source another company to meet with. You have invested your time to visit the photographer and getting to know them and how they will shoot your wedding. If someone you had never met, who doesn't know any of the details about your wedding or who personally invested in being at your wedding shows up then what a waste of time you spent getting to know the original photographer who was going to shoot your wedding in their style for you.)

-When will my products be ready?
(Ask this and if you do not get a specific answer or time-line consider other options for your wedding photography. If a photographer doesn't know how long it will take them to complete your wedding images, albums prints etc. then you have to question how long they have been running their business for and how many weddings they have done at this business.)

-How many weddings did you shoot last year?
(Don't ask how many weddings they shoot in a year, ask how many they actually shot last year. This will give you a rough idea of the type of work flow the photographer may or may not have to deal with during the course of the wedding season)

Q. Do you feel it is important for a couple to hire a Wedding Planner/Coordinator? Why?

A. Yes I do. I think every couple should hire a Wedding Planner Coordinator because in most cases this is their first and only wedding and they most likely will know very little about what goes into making a wedding an event that people will enjoy and above all an event the couple and can relax and enjoy. There are lots of resources out there for couples to help them plan their own events, but there are also lots of resources out there on how to change the spark plugs in your car but most people will still take a car into a mechanic. Why do they still do this? because the mechanic has easy accessibility to the tools and the top of mind knowledge to get the job done efficiently. Wedding Coordinators are the same. They work alongside your vendors to make sure your dinner is served hot, they make sure your guests are seated at the right tables, and they make sure all your vendors show up, and that the event runs on time. Wedding Coordinators are essential. This shouldn't even be a question in my opinion. i think when couples get engaged a wedding planner/co-ordinator should just magically appear. It would make the wedding planning process so much more enjoyable for the couple.

Q. Are there any special promotions you have going on right now?

A. From December 20th 2010- January 20th 2011 we are giving away 50% off all engagement/pre wedding photo shoot packages. Please contact us for details and mention that you heard about it here.

Thank you so much to Erika for her insight. I look forward to working with both of you soon!

Rowell Photography
705-321-1102 (Barrie)
647-863-2005 (Toronto)
Studio Address:
6 Regalia Way
Barrie, Ontario
L4M 7H7

*Although we love all our vendors, our opinions may vary slightly on certain tips and points.

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